Freelance writing is one of the most flexible and lucrative side hustles I know. It’s funny though, because journalism and writing-related college majors are usually referred to as having some of the lowest paying job prospects. Plus, writing articles for prominent blogs and websites often doesn’t require having a degree at all.
Freelance writing is a great way to earn extra money on the side of your main job or even earn a full-time living. There are many freelancers earning $50,000-$100,000+ per year from their work.
So what makes someone successful in this field? Some would say you have to be a good writer. Others would say you need the skills and experience necessary to turn your services into a professional business.
I would say the key factor in determining your success as a freelance writer is the ability to let go of your fears. Sometimes, you can be your own worst enemy and fear can easily hold you back. Here are 5 common fears you’ll need to let go of if you want to establish yourself as a freelance writer and become successful.
1. Fear of Rejection
Fear of rejection is a big obstacle a lot of people face – not just aspiring freelance writers. In the freelance world, you’ll be expected to round up your own clients if you want to earn money. You may be able to utilize your network for leads, but you’ll probably have to send quite a few pitches to potential clients that you’d like to work with as well.
Pitching can seem like a tedious task, but the more you do it, the better it will get. You can make a spreadsheet of potential clients and their contact information so you can send out pitches when you’re ready.
Rejection is inevitable when you send out pitches for work. There will be some people who don’t think you are skilled enough to write for them or who just don’t like you in general and that’s okay.
Sometimes you might start talking with someone about your services and they will back out at the last minute or choose someone else. It sucks, but there are literally thousands of potential clients out there just waiting to be explored and you can’t work with everyone or please everyone. It’s important to accept the fact that rejection is a natural part of the process and most times it’s nothing you did wrong. The timing is just not right and you’ll have to move on to the next prosepct.
2. Fear of Confrontation
As a freelance writer, there will be times when you’ll have to speak up for yourself and your worth because no one else will. When I first started freelancing, there were times when I didn’t get paid for over 30 days past the due date, failed to negotiate my rates, and didn’t receive payment at all for work I did because I never sent an invoice and just expected the client to pay me.
I made all of these mistakes because I was afraid of confrontation. I was afraid to ask questions and afraid to have that touchy and awkward conversation with my clients about payment and rates.
Then I realized this is a business and not a friendship circle. I found out that there was a proper and professional way to follow up with others, ask for what I wanted, and defend my stance. It’s not easy to overcome this fear, but it’s essential and others will respect you a lot more for being able to stand up for yourself.
3. Fear of Self Doubt
One of the worst fears you can have when trying to break into freelance writing is fear that you’re not good enough. When you get leads or see that someone is hiring and you instantly think “They’d never pick me since my writing is not good enough, so I might as well not even try” you are only setting yourself up for failure.
The enemy of self-doubt is confidence and you should establish confidence in yourself and your abilities by working to become a better writer and just taking a chance when an opportunity comes your way.
List out all the likable qualities and useful skills you have that could make you an asset to a client like the ability to come up with your own unique topic ideas, accept constructive criticism, submit work on-time that requires little editing, respond to emails promptly and so on. Then communicate these strengths when you send a pitch or apply for a job so you can do so with confidence.
4. Fear of Making a Mistake
Errors are inevitable when you write something. Even some of the best writers make mistakes. However, in an industry where flawless copy is praised and errors can discredit what you have to say, it’s natural to seem worried about making a mistake.
You shouldn’t let that hold you back though. What works for me, is to start the writing process by flushing out all my thoughts and ideas first. Then, I go back over the article with a fine tooth comb and correct any spelling or grammaical errors I see at least once or twice. You can also use tools like Grammarly to proofread your work before you send it off for review.
If all else fails, your editor or copy editor may catch something and fix it or ask you to fix it. That’s what they’re there for. If everyone were expected to write awesome content that is perfect and error free all the time, positions like an editor or proofreader wouldn’t even exist. The more you write, the better you will become at spotting any errors before you publish an article or post.
5. Fear of Your Own Success
When you are moving forward in life and opportunities start coming your way, you may hold yourself back being consciously or subconsciously afraid of your own success. This type of fear may occur more often than you think. If you second-guess yourself, give up too easily, talk about your goals but never to anything to achieve them, or fail to acknowledge the good work you do, you need to ask yourself why you are doing these things and determine how it is holding you back.
Are you afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a risk?
Are you hindering your own success because you’re afraid of others seeing you fail if it doesn’t work out?
Are you afraid to put yourself out there and be judged?
To overcome this fear, take the time out to truly understand why you are working toward becoming a freelance writer. If you’re doing it for yourself so you can reach larger goals, you shouldn’t worry much about what other people think or say. Work on staying positive and envisioning what you want achieve in the end and how you can get out of your own way.
Have you ever had any of these common fears? How have you overcome them or how are you currently working to get past them?